Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cliza, Punata, Cochabamba, Bolivia: Challenging Area, but Not Impossible

Well, blame the zone leaders for not being able to write a family letter last week. They cut our time short if we arrive to the internet cafe as a zone, as they did last week. So I wasn't able to write many people last week. I'll make sure to catch you all up on what happened the past 2 weeks here though.

First of all, my area may be the toughest area in the entire mission.  Cliza is a tiny pueblo in the middle of nowhere. The closest other pueblo is called Punata, which is where the branch meets.  It is about 20 minutes in a trufi from Cliza, and is a bit expensive to get there. Many people are humble here, and want to listen to our message.  They will listen, and read what we give them, and even pray to know its true.  The only major problem is attending church for them. One, it is expensive to travel to Punata, there and back. Two, there is The Feria.  This is a gigantic market that they only have on Sundays.  Nearly every person who lives in Cliza is a vendor of some sort.  Since the Feria is only on Sundays here, that means either sell what they have, or have their family starve.  For many people attending church is almost not even an option for them. And if they can't attend church, they can't progress or get baptized. For this, there as been one baptism in 5 years in my area, which was actually only a few months ago by my companion.  Since there have been no baptisms here, that means there are no members either to help us, or even less active members to go visit.  For a time, the area was closed because of having no success, but now it is back, and we are now here, and ready to build up the church here!

Now there are many things that could discourage any missionary about this area, and it does to some. There are elders who pray they never come here.  But for my companion and I, it's just a challenge we have accepted, and are doing great here! We have many people who are progressing now.  Sunday mornings are always a fiasco, but if we put all out efforts in, we can usually convince 2 or 3 to come, at least for an hour to church. But that allows them to progress, and it is really helping them.

Here in Bolivia, and much of South America, Halloween is very sacred.  It's not a time to put on masks and ask for candy at the doors of neighbors.  It's a time to remember those who have passed, and hold ceremonies for them.  In Bolivia, they call this holiday "Todos Santos" or All Saints, and its never held on the 31st of October.  They believe the modern tradictions of Halloween have ruined the day, so they celebrate either 2 days before ( my birthday haha) or 2 days after.  We helped the only recent convert in Cliza, Edwin, and his family make special types of bread to sell for the holiday too. Once I have a camera cable, I will send the pictures of them!
So that's what my new area is like, and I am enjoying every day here! I'd love to hear from everyoe personally, when you all get a chance!

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

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